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United Nations Security Council Reform: Prospects and Challenges for Nigeria’s Quest for a Permanent Seat
THE CHIEF SERVANT, DR. MU’AZU BABANGIDA ALIYU, OON (TALBAN MINNA), THE GOVERNOR OF NIGER STATE /CHAIRMAN NORTHERN GOVERNOR’S FORUM AT THE MAIDEN DISTINGUISHED PUBLIC LECTURE SERIES, OF THE SULTAN MACCIDO INSTITUTE FOR PEACE, LEADERSHIP AND DEVELOPMENT STUDIES, AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ABUJA; ON MONDAY, 11TH OCTOBER, 2010.
THEME: UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL REFORM: PROSPECTS AND CHALLENGES FOR NIGERIA’S QUEST FOR A PERMANENT SEAT
2. I am pleased to be here at the maiden distinguished public lecture series of the University of Abuja, and especially to listen to a great personality, Professor Ibrahim Abgoola Gambari whose name is almost synonymous with international diplomacy, a Professor of International relations and diplomacy, who has taught at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria as well as in some of the most renowned centres of academic excellence around the world. A former Nigeria’s Minister of External Affairs, currently United Nations Under-secretary and Special Adviser on Africa, Professor Gambari was the longest serving Ambassador/permanent representative of Nigeria to the United Nations before he joined the UN in 1990. Occasions like this, which offer the opportunity for interaction and exchange of ideas so that society and humanity will be better served are always encouraging and appealing to me. It is therefore with a sense of humility and joy that I accepted to be here to chair the occasion.
3. The theme of the Lecture: “United Nations Security Council Reform: Prospects and Challenges for Nigeria’s Quest for a Permanent Seat”, is very relevant to the extent that this event is taking place around the golden jubilee anniversary of Nigeria, the period that we are taking stock of how Nigeria has fared in the last 50 years, including our international diplomacy, which is of paramount importance in the life of any nation. Undoubtedly, Nigeria has done very well as far as big brother role in Africa and meeting the UN obligations are concerned in the past 50 years – showing visible commitment to the promotion of peace, security and liberation not only in Africa, but also in the Middle East and other parts of the world, contributing significantly to the UN Troops deployment for peace keeping operations (ranked 7th among 106 nations in UN assessment on troops contributions), championed the eradication of colonialism leading to the emancipation of African nations such as Angola, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa, and playing leadership roles in humanitarian interventions in African nations affected by man-made or natural disasters and conflicts/violence.
4. Other areas of notable feats include, building capacity for internal conflict resolutions and restoring peace and stability especially in the West African sub-region, particularly in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote’d Ivoire, Sudan and others. However, while we may have done well externally, we may not, as a nation benefitted from our various humanitarian and philanthropic engagements probably because of our domestic politics. There is a strong correlation between domestic politics and international diplomacy. We need to get it right at home first, to be more organized and disciplined. We need to demonstrate capacity to manage our home front independently, even to be role models for others at the continental level, before venturing into the international political arena, especially in this competitive age. For instance, it will be ironical for Nigeria to earn respect from other smaller African countries when we cannot demonstrate capacity to organize acceptable elections. What is our rating as far as the parameters that determine the worth and dignity of great nations in the 21st century is concerned? What is our rating in Good governance, rule of law, effective democratic institutions, wealth creation and employment generation? How have we fared in the provision of social amenities for the improved well being of the citizens? Where do we stand on the human development index? How do we compare with other nations on Quality of life index, on the International Transparency Index and on the Corruption index? What is the correlation between a UN Security Council seat and the quality of life of the average Nigerian citizen?
5. How can it be that at 50 years as an independent nation, 96 years of Nigeria and in the 21st century, we are still bickering about which region should produce the President. We appear not to be concerned with quality of leadership but more concerned about where a person comes from – instead of bothering about quality and accountable leadership and going for the best and demanding for quality services to the greater number, where we have stable water supply, good roads, functional railway lines, safe airspace, credible and acceptable elections, free education at levels, graduate employment, functional informal and industrial sector, among others.
6. The crux of the matter, I believe lies in our ability to ensure the emergence of credible leadership at all levels of the society; leaders with the passion for selfless service and sacrifice, servant leaders who will be committed to the service of the people in the most humble, transparent, accountable and God-fearing manners. Let us not forget that everything rises and falls with the quality of leadership. We therefore need servant leaders that will relate easily with the people, understand their problems and work with them to solve those problems, and at the same time create the opportunities for them to realize their full potentials.
7. We need a leadership that can guarantee the security of lives and property which is foremost constitutional responsibility; we need a society free from armed robbery, banditry, religious extremism and kidnapping, as well as the latest bombing saga that has become an embarrassment to the nation. Every Nigerian should be a free citizen with full rights, priviledges and responsibilities to live and work in his/her location of choice. Nigeria deserves a leadership that can galvanize the society for us to project our power in such a way that whether we are in the Security Council or not we are a nation to be reckoned with and all Africans are looking forward to us and respecting our views, opinions and positions.
8. We must pay tribute to the University of Abuja for honouring the great grandson of the man who united the North (Usman Dan Fodio) and whose descendant (Sir Ahmadu Bello), a charismatic and revered leader whose transformational leadership roles remain indelible in the annals of Nigerian history and who will continue to be a role model for generations to come. There is no better tribute to Sultan Maccido – a man of humility and peaceful disposition, than to name the Centre for Peace, Leadership and Development Studies of this University after him.
9. Finally, I share the view that the UN as a continental body needs to be reformed to make it more democratic in structure, efficient and effective in meeting the needs and aspirations of member nations in the 21st century. Therefore I believe the most qualified person to speak on the subject matter today is Professor Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, who also shares ancestral relationship with Sultan Maccido.
10. I thank you all for this opportunity and may we have a wonderful presentation by the Guest Speaker.